Assessing Data, Tools, and Metrics for Understanding Social Justice Impacts of Transportation Projects, Programs, and Investments

Research Lead: Jesus Barajas

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: The historical impacts of transportation planning and investment have left lasting scars on communities of color and low-income communities in California. State departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and local and county governments have recognized the value of equitable planning and programming but also are aware of the limitations in implementing and evaluating equity due to, among other reasons, a lack of appropriate tools or data. Many have begun to address these injustices through plans, policies, and deeper engagement with communities, but the practice is still nascent. While there are a variety of data, tools, and metrics from research and practice that measure the distributional equity of transportation planning and projects to help implement equitable solutions, there has not yet been a systematic accounting of how effective the tools and indices are across geographic scales and population groups or how they might work together or compete with one another to advance equity.

Project Description: This project will identify and evaluate transportation data, tools, and metrics that can be used to understand the social justice impacts of transportation projects, programs, and investments across geographic scales and population groups. It will provide critical analysis for Caltrans to help meet their equity commitments (including the development of a Transportation Equity Index tool) and will identify opportunities for equity-based federal funding under the Reconnecting Communities program. The review will focus on data, tools, and metrics that can be used in spatial dashboards or the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge Transportation Disparities Tool. These dashboards are important for visualizing the spatial distribution of existing inequities at multiple scales and for multiple purposes and offer an easy-to-understand platform for community engagement around neighborhood injustices. The research team will: (1) conduct a brief literature review on equity data and analysis, (2) conduct needs assessment workshops with relevant stakeholders, (3) identify transportation equity tools and data used in research and practice, particularly those that already exist as spatial dashboards or can be easily made as such, and (4) evaluate and critique those tools based on a typology for potential equity and justice impacts and gaps in implementation.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $30,000